If you have Asclepias planted then chances are, you will soon have Milkweed seeds floating around the neighborhood. Your neighbors will wonder where these little Milkweed plants sprung up from and then when they see your plant, they will understand. Where do the seeds come from?
The seed pods themselves come or form from the flower blossoms if the blossom is pollinated.
After the Milkweed flower has finished blossoming, it begins its 'seeding' process. The Silky Gold blossom on the left hasn't finished flowering yet the two on the right are 'done' and have begun to go to seed. They look like two little teardrops in the picture.
Soon, they will begin to elongate and change shape and begin to form the 'pod.' In this picture, the flower blossom was removed so only the two seeding pods remain.
NOTE: It is important to know that if flowers are deadheaded, that is, if the spent blossoms are removed, you will NOT get seed pods! One pollinated blossom=one seed pod. Two pollinated blossoms=two seed pods.
Here is a picture showing how one stem has four seed pods, some blossoming flowers, and one flower going to seed, all at the same time!
Now, in order to gather seeds from the seed pods, the best thing to do is to wait until the seed pod is beginning to 'crack' open. Do not take the seed pod off of the plant early or the seeds just won't be viable (won't germinate when planted).
Keep an eye on the pods-they will soon begin to change colour. A hint is to gently squeeze the pod and when you feel it begin to give a little, you will know that the time for the seeds to be ready is coming soon! A long line will soon show and this crack will open up to expose the brown Milkweed seeds. If you get the pod just as it is splitting, it is really easy to gather the seeds.
Once it has opened all the way, the seeds have a tendency to start flying away as each seed has its own little 'helicopter propeller' made from a lightweight silk that the wind will pick up and propel through the air.
Here's a close-up of a single Milkweed seed. Click on the picture to really see it up close!
Now for seed collecting...gather together a plastic container with a lid and several coins. Collect the seed pods that have begun to split as well as those that have opened. DO NOT store any of the seed pods in a plastic baggy as mold will develop!! Put the coins into the plastic container (a cup-like container works well). Separate the seeds from the pod casing by simply pulling the seeds into the container. Throw the casing away. Do this for all of the seed pods. The silk goes into the container as well unless you are able to separate the seeds from the silk floss (not always an easy task!).
Cover with the lid. Shake the container up and down. Twirl the container in a circular motion. Shake it up and down again. Twirl it around. You will find that the coins will act as an agitator (similar to that of the washing machine!). Soon, the silk floss will begin to 'ball up' toward the top of the container and the seeds will begin to fall toward the bottom.
Remove the silk floss fluff 'ball.' The seeds have now all gathered together at the bottom and you can store these in an open container to be planted at a later date! On a side note, the 'fluff' has been used to stuff life vests (personal flotation devices), comforters (for those allergic to feathers), etc. so if you are interested in saving and recyling the Milkweed silk, go for it! Just remember, as with handling ALL things related to Milkweed, be sure to wash your hands after working with the seeds.
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some of the adorable clip art found on this website is used with the express written permission of D.J. Inkers